Sonoma State University -- September 19, 2003

Shrinking Numbers Of Social Workers In North Bay Leads To Master's Program By Two Universities

A potential crisis in the future of social workers at agencies in the North Bay has prompted the offering of a Master's of Social Work from San Jose State University on the Sonoma State University campus.

Thanks to efforts between SSU and San Jose State University, the part-time degree program is being offered to 30 social workers in agencies in Napa, Sonoma and other North Bay areas this fall on a one-time basis.

Projected staff shortages in Sonoma and other North Bay Counties motivated a unique collaboration between two universities and North Bay County agencies.

The advanced degree will allow current social workers to continue their education in light of a survey of the area that showed that within the next five years, approximately 75 percent of the staff will be eligible for retirement, leaving a major crisis in staffing.

The survey also showed there will be a problem recruiting qualified individuals from out of the area, because of the high cost of living in Sonoma County.

"Social workers play a vital role in public and private agencies and are the front line workers dealing with child abuse, elder abuse, people with mental and physical disabilities, and people coping with severe medical and financial crises," says Elaine Leeder, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at SSU.

Students will specialize in services to children, youth and families or to people with physical and mental disabilities. They are officially enrolled in the School of Social Work at San Jose State University, but take classes on Saturdays at Sonoma State University. SJSU faculty travel to SSU to teach the classes.

For further information, contact the persons listed below:

Elaine Leeder, Dean, School of Social Sciences, Sonoma State University. (707)664-2112 or

Dianne Edwards, Director, Sonoma County Human Services Department. She insight into the problem regionally and has been extremely supportive of the program. (707) 565-500 or

Mary Ann Swanson, Chair of the Sonoma Unit of the National Association of Social Workers and Manager of the Sonoma County Valley of the Moon Children's Shelter. She has been a strong supporter of the need for a local MSW program. (707)565-8394 or

Jim Featherstone, Assistant Director of Napa County Department of Health and Human Services. Very active in planning process. Wants to nominate this university-county collaboration for an award. (707)253-4279 or

Madeleine Rose, Adjunct Faculty in Sociology at SSU and currently acting as SSU site coordinator for SJSU/SSU Collaborative Part-Time Program (707) 887-2400 or

Media Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707) 664-2057

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